Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Freescale Introduces Ultra-Low-Power Smart Radio for Wireless Metering and Medical Applications

Sub-1 GHz solution with hardware, software and tools to help simplify development 
By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Freescale Semiconductor has launched a new ultra-low-power, sub-1GHz integrated smart radio chip for smart metering, medical, building and home automation applications.
The MC12311 platform combines a sub-1GHz RF transceiver featuring high link budget and strong blocking immunity and a low-power, high-speed 8-bit HCS08 microcontroller (MCU) in a single land grid array (LGA) package, along with outstanding support in the form of multiple protocol stacks, development tools and reference designs to decrease design effort and time to market.
"Our new MC12311 smart radio offers consistent and robust RF performance as well as feature-rich flexibility to help simplify and speed our customers' path to market," said Bruno Baylac, director of Freescale's Metering, Medical and Connectivity Solutions business.
The MC12311 helps designers quickly connect to the smart grid by making it easier to add wireless connectivity to many types of equipment. The device provides improved propagation and increased range for home area network (HAN) RF communication to perform the wireless last mile connection for utility meter reading. It can connect smart meters to remote displays that show consumption data and thermostats that help control energy use. For medical applications, the MC12311 can replace cables to eliminate problems associated with wired connectivity, including cable or connector damage, as well as the potential spread of infection. Additional application examples include ultra-low-power medical sensors worn on the body, wireless building sensors that detect temperature and humidity, garage door openers and general cable/wire replacement.
The software and hardware includes certified reference designs that simplify the development of applications that require RF connectivity, as well as CodeWarrior development tools and kits that include cost-effective board combinations and features. Several protocol stacks are available, including Simple MAC (SMAC) and a subset of the IEEE 802.15.4g standard. These are part of the Freescale BeeKit Wireless Connectivity Toolkit, a standalone software application that provides a graphical user interface (GUI) in which the user can create, modify, save and update wireless network solutions. Additionally, a wireless M-bus protocol stack that meets the requirements of the EN13757-4 communications standard is available from Freescale partner AMiHo.
The RF transceiver that supports 290-340 MHz, 424-510 MHz and 862-1020 MHz frequencies while complying with global and local regulations. The HCS08QE 8-bit MCU runs at up to 50MHz, has embedded 32 Kb flash memory and 2 Kb of RAM to support wireless communication protocol and application software in a single chip. The MCU offers multiple 16-bit timers, up to 33 GPIO, 13-bit port keyboard interrupt, 10-channel 12-bit ADC, SCI, I2C and dual analogue comparators.

Features include:
  • Link budget of up to +137 dB
  •  Up to -120 dBm sensitivity @ 1.2 Kbps, -105 dBm @ 38.4 Kbps, -18 to +17 dBm output in step of 1 dBm
  • "Bulletproof" front end: IIP3 = -18 dBm, IIP2 = +35 dBm, 80 dB blocking immunity
  • Low-power features such as 100 nA configuration retention, 16 mA Rx current, 20 mA Tx current at 0 dBm and 33 mA Tx current at +10 dBm make the MC12311 suitable for battery-operated equipment
  • Support of multiple modulation schemes (GFSK, MSK, GMSK and OOK), enabling a common, flexible platform development compliant with multiple standards
  •  Embedded full packet engine with FIFO, synch word recognition, CRC computation and AES128 encryption and decryption without MCU running, enabling low-power implementations

Availability and price
The MC12311 platform solution is available in a RoHS-compliant 8x8, 60-pin LGA package, supporting -40 to +85°C operating temperatures with a voltage range from 1.8V to 3.6V to meet industrial and medical application requirements. Sample quantities of the MC12311 are available now from Freescale, with pricing starting at $2.79 in 1,000-unit quantities. Development kits are expected to be available from authorised distributors in December 2011

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